Earlier this week, both Labour and the Conservatives released their party political broadcasts ahead of local elections on May 2nd. At PMQs today, Jeremy Corbyn’s line of attack – focussing on cuts to council budgets and the devastating impact of those ideology-driven decisions – allowed he and the Prime Minister to re-enact their respective broadcasts.
Theresa May repeated claims of local authorities having more money available this year, and highlighted the government decision to lift the borrowing cap and allow councils to build more homes. But that measure, although welcome, clearly isn’t enough to tackle the housing crisis, which calls for more radical reforms. And a sense of urgency is lacking – despite, as Corbyn pointed out, child poverty rising in places like Swindon, which has been more affected by austerity than households in Tory-voting Surrey.
While name-checking key target areas Swindon and Stoke, which also have marginal seats that will be crucial to win or hold at the next general election, the Labour leader pinpointed specific Tory failures – such as the so-called “Fairer Funding Formula”, described as Orwellian – and successfully established a broader picture of unnecessary Tory cruelty.
Both parties are keen to avoid Brexit during this campaign, and today’s PMQs neatly encapsulated Labour’s message: “Austerity isn’t over”. Corbyn will be hoping that this, and not the confusing and chaotic non-departure of the UK from the EU, will be kept top of mind by voters next month.